For this year’s cyclocross season, I didn’t have a complete new bike lined up for review, focusing instead on testing a random assortment of new parts on my own bike, a Moots Psyclo-X RSL. Yesterday, it was the IRC Serac CX tires. Today, it’s the Bontrager Race X Lite (RXL) IsoZone handlebar with Prologo’s new OneTouch 2 CPC handlebar tape.
The combination creates a heavily padded perch, combining IsoZone pads stuck directly to the handlebar with a thick foam tape using Prologo’s CPC texture. Both are designed to damp vibrations, and the tag team effort puts about 6-7mm of padding under the palm in key spots. That’s wonderful, and fortunately Bontrager’s handlebar shape is a well designed foundation for it all…
The RXL ranking sits near the top of Bontrager’s hierarchy, and the $299 price reflects that. It’s made of OCLV unidirectional carbon fiber and comes in at 225g for a 44cm wide bar. The IsoZone pads add another 11g for a very lightweight total of 236g. Other specs include 125mm drop and 85mm reach, all of which are printed on the front of the bar in case you forget.
The pads and bar both have indications to aid in placement, just line up the dots. The bar is molded with recesses to fit the pads and grooves for the cable housing, so it ends up with a normal, round shape once wrapped.
I enjoyed the straight, flat shape of the top section, including the flat bit extending to the curve. Note the abrupt start to the curve, which gives them a very flat platform for hands. The drops also have an extended flat section at the rear with a gradual curve. I found this to be exceptionally comfortable, and the IsoZone pads improve it further.
While riding in the hoods, I didn’t notice any undue flex when ripping the bike side to side for a sprint, but they’re not unduly harsh. The drops have a bit of flex, which is normal, making them a comfortable option for the intended rough/gravel road usage. These have seen plenty of that during training rides, during which I noticed less hand numbness or discomfort than usual. They’ve also seen a few ‘cross races and minor wipeouts with no apparent ill effects.
The Prologo OneTouch 2 handlebar tape debuted in 2015 with a lower profile version of their CPC bumps and a €30 price (a gel version is available for €35). CPC is their use of small rubbery nubs on saddles and gloves to diminish vibrations (a new lighter version of which was shown at Eurobike 2016). Honestly, I can’t even notice the bumps, but the 2.5mm polyurethane foam does a great job of muting vibes. And it’s grippy.
The remnant snip on top shows thickness. Both full rolls weighed in at a scant 71g, with their plastic plugs adding 6g. I used virtually the entire roll, only cutting an angled end off to finish the wrap cleanly. The tape doesn’t stretch much during install, just enough to ensure a nice tight wrap. It is not adhesive backed.
The only issue I’ve had with the tape is that it shifted under the pressure of my palms after about five rides. This is possibly because I didn’t give it enough overwrap as the tape itself offers solid grip with gloves. I have not ridden it with bare hands, so can’t speak to its grip against skin, but I have ridden it in a light rain and it’s plenty grippy when wet. I plan on rewrapping it soon, before the inevitable staining of its beautiful whiteness becomes too much. Yeah, yeah, white tape for ‘cross, I know. But damn it looks good, and the contrasting ends match perfectly with the SRAM CX1 and outlined Moots graphics.
The few slips and slides I’ve taken haven’t marred the tape, nor is it showing much wear beyond the discoloration. The plugs sometimes struggle to stay in, but I haven’t lost them yet. Overall, the combination of the RXL IsoZone bar and Prologo’s cushy tape have made my hands very happy, which makes me happy. If you don’t mind a slightly thicker bar, I’d recommend both together or on their own.